Let me get this off my chest immediately: I worship Big Star. I mean I worship at the altar of everything they did. Alex was a part of that band. For those of you unfamiliar with the ‘70s band, the CD which combines the recordings #1 Record and Radio City is as essential a CD as Sgt. Pepper’s, Pet Sounds, the Nuggets box set or the Stooges’ Raw Power. If you don’t buy this new record, PLEASE go out and buy this CD. You’ll thank me later. OK…now I feel better.
Now. This record is called Set. Apparently, Barney Hoskyns writes in his great piece on Big Star in the last issue of Mojo that Alex wanted to call this record Loose Shoes and Tight Pussy. OK, I said to myself as I hit the play button on my CD player, be open minded and give it a chance even if Alex wanted to use that ghastly name.
Well, Alex has spent a long time trying to separate himself from the legend of Big Star since the mid-‘70s. This recording is another example. Don’t get me wrong. Alex is really just a Memphis Southern boy well versed in real blues and real soul. That part of Alex’s musical history gave Big Star an edge that other bands such as Badfinger and the Raspberries lacked at times.
What this recording is are covers of some great songs recorded very live in the studio with a bass player and drummer, Memphis Stax/Volt style. What is so striking is the guitar playing. Chilton is a great guitar player, period. A three piece live record like this would fall flat in less capable hands. As much as I anticipated being disappointed by this record, I was surprised. It is fun. Really fun. The songs are all soul, blues or jazz classics and Chilton is blazing.
Fans of classic soul and great guitar playing should buy this. At this stage of his career, Chilton has earned the right to do whatever records he wants and I am sure he agrees. He is the man. Check it out.